a music festival to save the Cavaillé Coll organ of the Notre-Dame church

a music festival to save the Cavaillé Coll organ of the Notre-Dame church
a music festival to save the Cavaillé Coll organ of the Notre-Dame church

It has been at least twenty years since the vibration of the air in its 600 pipes filled the nave of the Notre-Dame church in Bergerac (Dordogne). The choir organ, called “le petit Cavaillé Coll”, built in 1864 by the famous organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll, is no longer in good condition. The association Les Amis de l’orgue de Saint-Jacques, which has already worked on the restoration of a first instrument, has decided to remedy this. With the support of the city, it has imagined a festival to launch crowdfunding for the restoration of the instrument, listed as a Historic Monument.

“We have an exceptional organ heritage in Bergerac,” emphasizes Uriel Valadeau, member of the association and organist at Saint-Jacques. “It is rare, especially in the South-West, to have two Cavaillé Colls which are the Stradivarius of the French organ.” The city owes this to Prosper Faugères, who was notably director of the external relations office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the 19th century and who traveled with the famous organ builder.

Expertise from the Drac

Originally intended for the Carmes church in Bordeaux, the instrument has the particularity of being placed on the floor. During its restoration in 1982, it was moved from the back of the high altar to the west arm of the transept.

While several elements of Notre-Dame are listed, the city has decided to take steps to have the organ listed as a Historic Monument. “There are several stages in the process. In May, we therefore requested protection,” explains Laurence Rouan, First Deputy Mayor. “Then there will be an expert appraisal by the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC), which will take several months.” It will issue a protection notice, a “carte blanche to be able to restore the organ.”

Looking for patrons

The cost of the work is estimated at 150,000 euros. To finance it, the association had the idea of ​​looking for patrons and appealing to the generosity of the public. The restoration of the organ could take place in 2026, and represent the last phase of the work on Notre-Dame, which had been declared in danger in 2020. Since then, the building has been undergoing incessant construction work.

The Friends of the Organ did not do things by halves. They asked Juliette Sbrana, a winemaker in Rouffignac-de-Sigoulès, at Château La Robertie, to create Cavaillé Coll bottles in red and rosé. They also asked Bernard Panozzo, a rose breeder, to create a rose bush that can be ordered at the festival.

Through Bernard Pianozzo, the volunteers managed to bring the great-grandson of the postman, accompanied by his wife and daughter for the concert on Friday, July 19. As with the organ of Saint-Jacques, it will be possible to sponsor a pipe to honor a loved one (150 euros). In 2026, the organ should thus find its place in “the acoustic and architectural axis of the building” and resonate alone or, for ensemble concerts.

The program

The festival will begin on Friday, July 19 at 8:30 p.m. at the Saint-Jacques church, with an organ, piano and voice concert by the Cavaillé-Coll family. A romantic program around Saint-Saëns, Jean-Alain and Ravel. The second evening will be held on Saturday, July 20 at 8:30 p.m., with Zoom chorale, Dorette and Adagio (from Normandy for the last two), accompanied by the organ. Sunday, July 21 at 4 p.m., in Dordonha, Bernard Panozzo will present his “small-flowered” and “romantic” style rosebush. Prices: 20 euros, free for under-18s and job seekers. Information and tickets on www.orgue-bergerac.org

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